Have you handled a sheathed sword before? Or, have you been near a hunter or warrior drawing his sword from the scabbard? Do you hear that hissing sound, when the sword is drawn or returned into the sheath? It sounds as if the sword, razor sharp as it is, is slicing throught the sheath, and it actually does happen. Sometimes, the sword destroys the scabbard and then a new one has to be built. But, knowing how dangerous the sword can be if it is not in the scabbard, its home, will any sensible person go about with a sword that is without a scabbard? So, during such a period, while waiting rebuilding, the sword stays in the house, unable to perform its functions and of no use. This is what gave rise to that Yoruba saying: The sword is destroying the scabbard, not knowing that it is destroying its own home. Ida mba ako je, ko mo pe ile oun ni oun mbaje.
Over the last week between October 19 and 24, 2020, we have seen wanton and mindless destruction of properties, with associated loss of lives, all in the name of #EndSARS protests, But, was it really worth it? Yes, several government infrastructure were destroyed, and government now has to spend money that may otherwise have been looted in replacing/repairing them, so, a point was scored. But, how many more points were lost in that process? Let’s consider the proceeding:
- In Lagos, several BRT buses were burnt to cinders. Who are those who use the BRT buses? Government officials? The gorvernor and his family members? No! It is the masses. So, in burning those buses, the drivers, ticketers, security guards, maintenance technicians (mechanics) have lost their means of livelihood, and commuters, the opportunity of getting to work fast and cheaply. Now, they are at the mercy of danfo drivers once again.
- Police stations and posts (20 at the last count), other government establishments were similarly razed down. Now, police in those areas are without a base to operate from. So, if hoodlums, the same misfits, who caused the problems, turn on the people, who will protect them?
- ShopRite and several other big stores, supermarkets and shopping malls were destroyed and valuable protperties looted away. But, who owns those shops? The Government? No! So, several people have had their sources of livelihood annihilated in the mindless orgy of destruction, with the result that some of them may never rise again; Beyond that however, all their employees are suddenly without jobs now, those who provide value added services to them: mechanics, cab drivers, security men, etc. are similarly short of options.
- During this period, the value of insurance will be felt. But, will the insurance companies be able to cope with the claims that are likely to arise? If not, will they not declare insolvency, and fold up? If they do fold up, how many insurance employees will lose their jobs and livelihood? What about brokers who make a living from getting policies for these insurance companies? Now, who wil not be affected, one way or the other, by this great conflagration?
- To crown it all, with so many fires and burning of properties, what about the emissions and the environmental effects? What about dioxins, carcinogenic particulates, and noxious gases that could cause or aggravate respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis, etc.? Who bears the brunt of such? Is it government only, or everybody who breaths the air in the polluted cities?
So, indeed, the sword has destroyed the scabbard, oblivious of the fact that in doing so, it has unwittingly destroyed its own house. At the end of the day, its not the government, or the rich elite that suffer, but the poor masses. So, haven’t the rioters and looters destroyed their own homes inadvertently? Honestly, this whole episode leaves a very sour taste in my palate, and just underscores the value of sound education. If these looters were educated and had analytical minds, it is not rocket science to figure out the issues I just highlighted above, but, again, the conscious and deliberate destruction of Nigeria’s educational system has come home to roost.
My head is still befuddled and my mind greatly constrained in terms of being able to evaluate the situation comprehensively, but so many issues are being thrown up and they are really saddening! For instance, how come so much stock of COVID-19 relief materials are still stockpiled in so many states? Are they expecting a “second and more severe wave of infections”? If so much is warehoused, doesn’t this then lend some credence to what the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs said, that ALL states received palliatives? Is the centre expected to come and do the sharing? Yet, when warehouses in some states were broken into, it was empty, because those states indeed shared the palliatives. I recall seeing some videos during the lockdown, of some women speaking excitedly about receiving food items and some cash and saying it was from Buhari. How come nobody from the south had such stories to tell? Is it that government did not send anything to them, or they were received, but hoarded by selfish individuals? So, doesn’t this lend further credence to the Yoruba saying about the eyes that know you taking you to the market for sale? Haven’t government officials and their cohorts who hoarded palliatives destroyed their own homes, thinking they are destroying the scabbard?
A lot of the issues arising from this spate of violence and wanton destruction just lend credence to some of the things I had written and shared in the past. For instance, not too long ago, I wrote about the true value of a warrior knowing when to fight and when to retreat (mo ja, mo sa ni a nmo akinkanju logun). What if, after 10 days of peaceful demonstrations, the youths had withdrawn and said: “We will stand by for government to act on our demands, or at least show verifiable indications that this is being done, within the next 14 days, otherwise, we will resume our protests”? Wouldn’t the government be in a feverish haste to do so? Would the government have known how easy it was to disrupt the protests? And, would we have had cause to witness the kind of destructive orgy and disruption of well laid out plans that we went through? I was in Bauchi when the violence broke out. I should have returned by Wednesday 21st October, but I had to stay put till Sunday 25th. 4 extra nights of hotel accommodation to be paid for, inability to do things I had lined up for Thursday to Saturday. Throughout the period, I was in great trepidation about the possibility of the riots assuming ethnic/religious hues. If this happened to me, you can imagine what so many other thousands had to go through. As it is now, a lot of what was gained by the protest has been obliterated by the accompanying destruction. And, the irony of it is that the sword destroyed the scabbard, its home, in the process.
There are so many other thoughts flowing through my head right now, but I do not want to be unnecessarily verbose so early in the week, and so other thoughts must be squeezed into another episode of Esoteric Cogitations. For now though, I must strongly admonish that we should sheath our swords, and instead adopt a more strategic approach. If we have waited 60 years to get good governance, another 2 and half years is not an impossibly long time away. Besides, it gives room for well meaning Nigerians, especially the youth, to plan and strategize. We must desist from living like the sword, destroying the scabbard, not knowing it is destroying its own home.
On a final note, let me render my sincere commiserations to those who lost loved ones, and those who’s properties were looted and/or vandalized. I pray that God will restore in multiple folds all that has been lost. The sword must stop destroying the scabbard, for in doing so, it can prevent ruining its own home and place of rest.
Peace and love!
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